Looking for a good scare? Hereditary, the first feature film by Ari Aster, hit cinemas mid-June with promises of being this generation’s The Exorcist; a bold statement considering that this horror classic left audience members spewing in their seats and passing out in the foyer. Although times have changed dramatically since then, Hereditary succeeds in its ability to disturb the viewer and linger in your thoughts long after you’ve left the cinema.
Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense, Little Miss Sunshine) runs the show with her chilling performance as a bereaved daughter and struggling mother of two teenagers, played by the talented Milly Sharpiro and Alex Wolff. This dysfunctional family suffers at the hands of their unconventional ancestry, each member uniquely terrorised as they attempt to amend their fragmented lives. Aster’s film-making is like nothing I’ve seen before, evident from the trailer’s opening image (below). Some scenes are impossible not to watch through your fingers as the jarring editing and ominous music submerges you into a world of utter terror.
Unlike the jump-scare fuelled flicks that offer nothing original to the horror genre, Hereditary forces you to stare at things that are truly unsettling. I found that after a particularly frightening scene, the audience would laugh nervously. I did too. Half terrified, half impressed that a single image or sound could make the hairs on my neck stand on end. Despite achieving its goal of being outright scary, themes of death and family conflict are taken seriously and handled with heart-breaking sincerity. If you appreciate the horror genre, Hereditary is worth your time.
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Hereditary will be available on DVD on October 8th.